State

Martial arts hold used on Shelby County teen before her death at Elizabethtown detention center

Hours before a teenager was found dead in her cell at the Lincoln Village Juvenile Detention Center on Jan. 11, she was restrained by a martial arts move known as Aikido restraint, according to the state Department of Juvenile Justice.

The next morning, officials at Lincoln Village found Gynnya McMillen, 16, of Shelby County, unresponsive in her cell and the girl was “cold to the touch,” according to audio of the 911 call detention center staff placed.

Upon arrival Jan. 10 at Lincoln Village, the girl reportedly refused to remove her sweatshirt so she could be searched when she was booked into the facility.

“The staff performed an Aikido restraint hold to safely conduct a pat-down search and remove the youth’s hoodie,” spokesman Stacy Flo den of the Kentucky Department of Juvenile Justice wrote in an email to the CBS program “48 Hours” Crimesider. “The purpose of having multiple staff involved in a controlled restraint is to ensure the safety of the youth and staff.”

An Aikido restraint typically immobilizes a person’s arm.

“Repeated refusal to cooperate with staff and remove her outer garment prompted the restraint,” Floden wrote.

She said a female staff member eventually conducted the pat-down and removed the teenager’s hoodie.

Officials have said it appears McMillen, who was sent to Lincoln Village after an alleged domestic dispute with her mother in Shelbyville, died in her sleep. The death is under investigation by Kentucky State Police and the Justice Cabinet’s Internal Investigation’s Branch.

McMillen’s family has hired attorney Ron Hillerich to look into the matter.

State officials also have confirmed Regi nald Windham, a Lin coln Village Juvenile Detention Center employee, was placed on paid administrative leave, according to the CBS report. The report said Windham, a 10-year employee with the state’s juvenile justice department, failed to check on McMillen every 15 minutes — a procedure required at the center.

McMillen was alone in her cell and was found in a sleeping position. She twice failed to respond Jan. 11 for breakfast, for a snack and when she received a phone call.

The typical wake-up time for youth at Lincoln Village is 5:45 a.m. Wake-up time for youth who are in an intake room or isolation varies by circumstances, such as if they came into custody in the middle of the night or if they are scheduled to leave for a court appearance later in the mor ning, Floden said.

Floden said last week, McMillen’s “silence was consistent with her behavior and lack of communication with staff since her arrival.”

At approximately 9:55 a.m., a Shelby County sheriff’s deputy arrived to transport her for a court appearance. Medical staff was notified after employees entered her room and attempted to wake her.

According to the 911 call placed nine minutes after the deputy’s arrival at 10:04 a.m., a controller at the detention center said he was calling because of an unresponsive teen and transferred the call to someone with more knowledge of the situation.

When a detention center nurse answered the transferred call, the dispatcher asked her if CPR was being administered. The nurse said it was not.

“They want us to start CPR,” she said to someone at the facility.

“Do y’all have a CPR protocol or do y’all need it?” the dispatcher asked.

“I’m new. I can find out. I don’t know,” the nurse said.

An EMS supervisor declared McMillen dead eight minutes later.

McMillen was under constant supervision throughout the night and morning of her death through video surveillance.

According to Floden, “The video footage of the youth’s room was under continuous monitoring by staff in the control room. Additionally, the youth had direct visual monitoring by staff at various intervals throughout the night and morning hours where staff looked in her room to see that she was sleeping and in no apparent distress.”

The Kentucky State Medical Examiner is awaiting toxicology, electrolyte analysis and histology report results to determine a cause of death.

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